After much build up, Bölzer have delivered their debut full length in late 2016 entitled Hero, and while most have seemingly loved what this Swiss duo have brought to the table since their emergence four years ago, this record is bound to split fans who merely want more of the same from those more open to growth – for there is most certainly an evolutionary leap that takes place on Hero that sets it apart from preceding releases.
While the overall sound is still recognizably Bölzer, with its big, bold guitar tone and penetrating vision, the make up of this release and its individual parts are altogether more airy and epic in nature, as an album simply called Hero probably should be. Besides being a bit more open ended with more space to breathe (and thus, freer to build tension), what fans will immediately notice is the vocals. In addition to what you’ve come accustomed to with Bölzer, they’ve added a pretty prominent array of clean vocals to the mix that will undoubtedly throw some off and turn others off altogether.
Thankfully for the guys in Bölzer, this likely means nothing to them. They’ve boldly dared to broaden their sound regardless of how its perceived and as one of many that was quite taken with the Aura EP in 2013, but not terribly impressed by its follow up Soma, I’ll say that this approach is just the breath of fresh air these guys needed to approach their first full length and to rekindle that flame that so abruptly sparked in their beginning.
But like I said, the sound on Hero is still noticeably Bölzer and what that means is that you’re still treated to colossal riffs on each and every single track. Anyone that tells you they aren’t head banging or aren’t at least remotely enticed by the bulldozing, charging rhythms on “The Archer,” “Spiritual Athleticism,” or the title track, is either lying or has ceased to value quality, engaging riffs that are actually as catchy as they are heavy and punishing.
Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
Additionally, I also have to say that the riffing is more dynamic than ever, as subtle accents can be heard all over the course of the 46-minute running time that continue to keep you reeled in hook, line, and sinker. A great example of this would be the song “Phosphor,” as it is lined with varying tempos and harmonics that dip, dive, and shift across nearly eight minutes with great nuanced integrity. Not a second goes to waste, not a moment of filler, no: this song, as well as the songs prior and after all are expertly crafted and deliberately sequenced in such a way that its finer points can only be uncovered by repeated inquiry.
Besides its own merit, that’s part of the charm with this album: they didn’t rush it. After making such a huge impact with Aura, Bölzer could have just thrown something together to satiate those of us entranced by their approach and come well short of expectations; but instead, they’ve taken their time, refined their craft, and released a debut album in Hero that is about as complete sounding as it gets. With crystal clear, yet gargantuan production value, each note shines – and I don’t think the mix could be any better either. Each and every piece fits and sounds massive, epic, and you know what – those clean vocals actually sound pretty damn good and quite fitting as well when all is said and done. Haters be damned, Hero is everything I wanted from Bölzer and more, HAIL!